There’s an American euphemism that says a whole lot about UK local government politics: “that dog does not hunt”… It also says a whole lot about the sort of “suck-up sycophants” you have to surround yourself with as a “strong leader” to survive. When you need a dog to hunt, the worst thing that can happen is to have a dog looking out and enjoying the landscape. Local government in the UK is in trouble, it is proving itself not fit for purpose, and that is because it can’t get the job done, the dog does not hunt…
So, what doesn’t work? Now the results vary from place to place, but primarily:
- costs being passed to the taxpayer go up and up and up, and are never coming down. Local government taxes increase every year and have for the last 20 years I have been here in Surrey Heath, they only ever go up
- service goes down by measurable amounts every year. No argument can be made that the Town Centre is anything other than an eyesore. The roads are getting worse by the day, as are most of the things that the public has to put up with
- both local and County Councils get more out of touch with both the views of the people and the technology that can be applied to get those view by the day. We have loads of “consultations” where we don’t actually consult with anyone. We couldn’t possibly afford to do that as we might find out what they think, and we might find ways to work that are miles better than what we do now
- careers of mediocrity and incompetence are endorsed and promoted by Council personnel, and not just permitted but promoted by these “strong leaders”. Why would you make anyone a CEO who has no earned authority and no experience whatsoever in successfully making any public service work?
- any possibility of “fresh blood” is culled from the system before it has any chance of life. The only possible way forward for local government to succeed is to have term limits for its elected representatives. Terms are 4/5 years, two terms and you are out. Anything longer breeds nothing but a bland procession of suck-up sycophants who actually need the job
So, what do we need? Pretty simple really, we need results: actual leaders and a system that can actually listen and actually works. Reward systems for actual performance, and elected representatives that actually represent…